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The guiding belief: A product is only as good as its personality. To stand out on the shelf, you've got to stand out in the crowd. Better yet, lead the crowd yourself. Joe Stiff became more than a cooler. He became a legend.


Category Research
Target Audience Research
Brand Naming

Brand Positioning

Brand Identity

Website Content Creation + Design

Online Gamification
Content Crafting


Influencer Relationship Management
Visual Standards Guide
Package Design

POS Design

Bar Signage Design
On-Site Event + Hosting Design

Special Event Planning + Management

PR Consulting + Media Management

Contest Curation + Execution

Team Lead + Management


Joe Stiff Spiked Root Beer had been enjoying a pretty successful run in the Alberta and BC markets, but it was time to make his way into new cities. As if that wasn't exciting enough, Spiked was expecting an addition to the family. An Orange Cooler was set to start bottling and needed a name. What’s in a name? Well, if your first brainchild is dubbed ‘Spiked Root Beer,’ you know the second offspring better be equally as cheeky. And so, I collaborated with a small, select marketing team for an extensive naming exercise, which included an evolution of the existing Root Beer identity, and designing a shiny new package.

From there, I was part of the marketing leadership team to launch the brand into new markets, including Ontario and Saskatchewan. Let roll the “Decades of Decadence.”



The best way to entice new customers was to show up where they were. Throw the best parties, hire a hip influencer as brand ambassador, sample delicious products, and teach the kids to groove in full retro style.

Locally owned and distributed out of BC, co-owned by Bear Breweries and Big Rock breweries, Joe Stiff's was enjoying high volume sales in the Alberta and BC markets. With sights set on entering the Ontario market, and gain shelf space at liquor stores across the province, the products needed first to prove desirable to onsite patrons in bars. We had to prove that the product was WANTED and COOL to an audience that had never even heard of us. An intensive research phase was undertaken, including customer persona breakdown, market review and customer journey mapping. More than a product, the goal was to create a movement around Joe Stiff's, a throwback to a simpler time, where root beer was our favourite soda pop, and our cares would drift away with the first sips of this bubbly beverage. 

Before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the social scene was actually on location, not online. To reach our ideal customers, we had to go where they were. So Joe’s marketing team, including social marketing expert Tara Hunt, the head sales manager, and the owner and creator, locked ourselves in a rented “war room” in Toronto to plot Joe’s launch into the Toronto scene. At night, we hit the clubs to learn more about the social scene, and what was hot in urban Young Adult bars. Along the way, we met Mark Holmes, formerly of the Canadian pop band Platinum Blonde, now DJ Mark, who owned the Mod Scene exploding all over Toronto, and would become our key influencer.


From those sessions, came a grass-roots “SOCIAL” movement, executed in top Urban Bars and atypical Karaoke joints, first in Toronto and then across Ontario, later to expand across Western Canada.

Fully embracing the MOD Movement, which focused on groovy 60s-style clothing, and all-night club scenes, Joe’s Crew hit the streets. Joe Stiff flooded the scenes, thanks to his Modettes and a charismatic host – actually a group of well-trained improv actors – and threw the hippest retro dance parties in town. Teaching dance moves, and giving out samples, the Crew spread the good story of Joe Stiff.

A spin-off event, Kickin Karaoke, was launched, with a rock’n’roll disco-funk playlist. The result? On-location sales of Joe Stiff were over double the quantities required for consideration of Liquor Boards in Ontario.


Joe Stiff-sponsored Retro Nights and Kickin Karaoke were in such high demand across Ontario that the concept was launched in the Prairie provinces. A cross-Canada contest was developed, using both retail ballots and online registration, giving away 7 impeccably restored and decked-out retro Vintage Vespas. It was groovy, baby.

Bar sales of Joe Stiff were double the quantities required for consideration of Liquor Boards across Ontario. Awards were given. A cross-Canada contest, distributed in cases, on-location and online, created heightened awareness and extensive customer engagement, gaving away 7 customized Vespas.
It was groovy, baby.


Our men (and women) weren't mad. They were Stiff.

The “Decades of Decadence” was born, celebrated through an award-winning advertising poster campaign.

Joe’s origin story captured an idealized time, when life was simpler, and a heck of a lot more fun. Through soda-pop tinted lenses, posters offered an escape from the hum-drum contemporary world, with stylized characters who lounged, loved, and thought really deep thoughts, all in anticipation of their refreshing sips of Spiked Root Beer. Photographer Clay Stang shot the images in creatively sourced locations, with local talent.

Printed posters were put up in bars, on community boards, and in liquor stores across Ontario, and later, in locations in Saskatchewan, BC and Alberta. They sold a lot of products, but the truest measure of their success: posters were constantly stolen within a day or two of being taped up. Maybe there’s still a little of Joe Stiff out there somewhere, in someone’s lovely wood-panelled abode.


Joe’s off-line presence was so engaging, the website had to follow suit. We were challenged to deliver “escapism”: be truly different from other sites.

Deliver something radical, ahead of its time.


Remember, in the early 2000s, the web was a VERY different place. There was no YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, and SimCity still had to be bought in a box and downloaded to your computer. Communicating online was reserved for email and chat rooms, where people were still enchanted by the opportunity to exchange words with like-minded individuals from across the world.


Joe's website had to be something that captured the in-person experience, brought right to your computer. And so, Joe got his own online Retro World.

Visitors could choose and customize their own characters, travel between virtual bars, rooftop patios, and dance clubs. Players would interact with virtual Modettes, and drink Joe Stiff - but drink responsibly, or their characters might get a little dizzy! Users were encouraged to play retro arcade games, unlock levels to learn new retro dance moves, and escape for a private chat in the "Booth 'O' LuVVV!" The results were truly timeless. If only we could have Joe Stiff World today - quarantine might have been a lot more interesting!

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